Have you ever had a clafoutis? Do you like pancakes? Do you like flan? Custard? Dutch Babies?
Then imagine a combination of all of the above baked in tart pan, filled with fruit. I know it may sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about (I often don’t) but trust me, this works. It’s kind of like a pudding. Yeah, I’m going with a baked pudding.
It is a quintessentially French dessert. Traditionally, back in the day, and still today if you want to meet strict French standards, it is filled with whole cherries. Yep, stone included. I don’t know how elegant everyone would have looked, trying to deposit said stones from mouth to plate. Or maybe they just had fancy silver spittoons!! How did perfect little french children deal with this dessert? Were they obedient and used a dessert spoon to elegantly remove the pits to the side of their plates, or did they end up having pseudo watermelon spitting contests around the table?
These days, if I am making a cherry one, I just pit them. Yes, I will get my knuckles wrapped by some crusty old French chef in some fancy Michelin restaurant, but really, I just don’t feel like putting my friends through the hassle. Can you imagine having to add a disclaimer when serving dessert, “Oh by the way, I left the pits in the cherries, I hope you don’t mind.”
You all know how much I adore cherries. So naturally the first time I had this dish (which had to be like 25 years ago now) I immediately fell in love with it. I will make one every year. And funny enough, I like serving it for brunch instead of dessert. Like I mentioned above, it really is like having a thick, dense pancake or flan, so why not have it on a brunch table?!
But a few times now I have made it using apricots. I had some apricots sitting around, and while an apricot tart, with the circles of apricots spiralling around is always a winner, I wanted to try something different. So I decided that these apricots needed to be inside a clafoutis.
Instead of just slicing them and laying them out in the dish, I decided to roast them first. This would give them a lovely caramelized exterior, and soften the skins just a little. Since I was going to be dusting them with a bit of honey and sugar, I decided to add some more spices. So out came the cinnamon and cardamom. And then it hit me, since the cardamom would be making an appearance, then why not some rosewater in the batter? And if I was going to go there, then everything would just have to be topped with pistachios! Suddenly this classic French dish was morphing into something exotic and Middle Eastern. Something that Jasmine and Aladdin might enjoy after a carpet ride!
I baked it off. The batter recipe I use is Dorie Greenspan’s classic Whole Cherry Clafoutis recipe from her book, ‘Around My French Table’. If you are looking for a comprehensive, from apps to desserts, tip, tricks and ideas from an French cuisine expert, this is the book for you. I have ‘several’ french cookbooks, from Julia Child to Patricia Wells and David Leibovitz, and everything in between, and I always find myself checking to see what Dorie has to say on the subject! And she even shows that you could bake this up in a par baked pie shell. But I kind of like just pouring the batter over the fruit filling the bottom of the tart pan. It’s like when you bake up a frittata instead of making a quiche. One is basically the same as the other, except for the crust. Why go through the extra bother of baking up a crust?
I had a friend over the first time I made this recipe. In fact, we were having so much fun chatting away, that I wasn’t paying attention, and actually forgot that I had the broiler on when I put the clafoutis in the oven. It didn’t take long for me to realize it, and I was able to salvage the dessert, despite the somewhat charred top. My friend had never had a clafoutis before, so when I handed her a piece of slightly browned but still perfectly set clafoutis, I waited with baited breath for her reaction. She right away compared the texture to creme brûlée (hopefully not because of my baking mishap!) When she gladly took a second portion, I was happy! The rosewater isn’t cloying or overpowering. The apricots have a lovely texture thanks to broiling them off first. And the sprinkling of pistachios add some colour and an extra sensation of texture. And the sweet-tartness of the apricots is in perfect balance to the not overly sweet batter.
If you’ve never tried making one of these babies before, I say go for it. It comes together so easily. Literally you are just lining the bottom of your tart pan or pie plate with the berries, apricots etc. Then slowly pour the batter over them all. It gets baked in a 350F oven till it is set and puffed, a lovely golden brown. Dust with icing sugar, sprinkle some toasted nuts on top and serve. You can just spoon it into bowls. If you did want to drizzle a fruit coulis or even some balsamic syrup, that would make for a lovely garnish. And if you want to switch it up, why not try blueberries or blackberries? For sure cherries will always be a winner. And if you are lazy, throw them in whole, not pitted. I just can’t guarantee your family will be thrilled with the ‘work’ they will have to do. Just tell them it’s very French, and pass them a bowl for the pits. It may become the game following the dessert- who can get the most pits into the bowl!?
Cardamom Roasted Apricot Rosewater Clafoutis
The classic French pudding/custard/flan dessert has morphed into an exotic Middle Eastern dish. Apricots are dusted with cinnamon and cardamom and drizzled with honey and sugar and roasted. These then are the base for a lovely rosewater scented batter in a tart pan. It is baked off till puffy and topped with toasted pistachios. Dessert or brunch!!
- 9 or 10 apricots depending on their size
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 1/2 tsp rosewater
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp slivered pistachios or chopped if that's all you can find
- icing sugar for dusting
Quarter the apricots, removing the pits, and lay out in one layer, skin side down on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle the cardamom and cinnamon evenly over them.
Sprinkle the sugar and honey over them evenly.
Place under the broiler until just turning a lovely crisp brown on the surface. About 5 minutes or so. Remove and set aside to cool a bit. Watch them so that they don't burn or break down too much.
Preheat the oven to 350F
Place the eggs into a medium sized bowl and whisk till foamy. Add the sugar and continuing whisking for another minute
Whisk in the salt, vanilla and rosewater.
Add the flour and whisk vigorously. Make sure there are no lumps of flour left.
Pour in the milk and cream and continue whisking (less energetically now) until completely smooth.
Rap the bowl against the counter to release any air bubbles.
Place your tart pan or pie plate onto a baking sheet. My tart pan is ceramic and is 10 inches in diameter. You can also use a deep dish pie plate (Make sure it can hold all the fruit as well as the liquid- about a 2 quart capacity)
Place all the apricots in one layer in the tart pan or pie plate.
Gently pour the batter into the middle of the pan, slowly letting it spread out to the edges. You should be able to fit it all it. It won't really grow, but it will puff, so it can reach close to the top of the pan if needed.
Place the baking sheet into the middle of the preheated oven.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until puffed, golden brown, and a knife comes out clean from the centre.
Let cool a bit.
In the meantime, take the pistachios and place them in a small heavy bottomed pan. Toast the nuts over medium to medium high heat till aromatic and just taking on colour. You don't want to burn them at all. Watch them. This should take no more than 5 minutes.
Dust the clafoutis with icing sugar. Scatter the nuts over the surface of the clafoutis.
Serve with a spoon into smaller bowls or plates.